by Reviewed by Douglas A. Calhoun
Local churches today are reassessing their proper function in fulfilling the mission mandate in relation to that of mission agencies. Addressing this need, the author describes the biblical rationale and explains the operating philosophy of the Antioch Network.
By George Miley. Gabriel Publishing, P.O. Box 1047, 129 Mobilization Dr., Waynesboro, GA 30830, 2003, 220 pages, $12.99
—Reviewed by Douglas A. Calhoun, Pastor of Missions at Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, Ill.
Local churches today are reassessing their proper function in fulfilling the mission mandate in relation to that of mission agencies. Addressing this need, the author describes the biblical rationale and explains the operating philosophy of the Antioch Network, “an expanding fellowship of local churches that are focusing strategically on extending God’s kingdom among unreached peoples” (p. 21).
The layout of the book represents an operating manual for the Antioch Network (but arguably for a wider selection of churches as well). After explaining the Network and personal context out of which the book arises in chapter one, the next three chapters review the biblical imperatives for missions and the unreached people focus for missions. Chapters four through seven articulate a strong commitment to every believer ministry practiced in the church community, a powerful gathering focused together on the task of mission and actively involved in a team approach to sending out missionaries and planting churches among unreached people groups.
Beginning with chapters eight to thirteen, the author presents the Antioch Network’s implementation of the mandate; the key concept is apostolic leaders. Based on the church at Antioch in Acts 13, clear instructions are provided for identifying apostolic leaders, their characteristics, and their development. Once this is done, the author provides a new vision on how to release such people from the local church to the mission field and what structures will be required to adapt to this new paradigm.
In chapters fourteen through sixteen, the book returns to common ground for all missions in its need for faith and corporate prayer, the Moravians providing a poignant example for these truths. In seventeen to twenty, the author restates his call to the local church to own Jesus’ commission and lays out steps for how a church might practice this strategy and join the movement of the Antioch Network.
The unique contribution here is the integrating of the theology of the church and mission. This book builds on the empowerment of the laity and presses the principle further as to how the energized church community then engages in missions personally by planting a church among an unreached people. The practical suggestions, biblical references, and outline-type format create a thoughtful, readable resource for church leaders and mission teams to explore how they are actually doing missions. The issues raised warrant a careful discussion whether or not there is current or future association with the Network.